ArcTanGent 2018 Review

Photo Credit : Helen Messenger

It’s no secret that we love ArcTanGent festival, it’s a chance to catch up with all our mates in one place and enjoy the music that brought us all together in the first place. We’ve been every year since it started and have never been disappointed and year number 6 was no exception.          

 In fact this year was actually one of our favourite editions, partly due to the fact that it stayed dry and sunny for the majority of the weekend for the first time since the first year but mainly because the lineup was fucking AWESOME!!!!!!

We arrived Thursday afternoon to the sounds of the much hyped Boss Keloid crushing it in the background as we made our way to set up camp for the weekend, we could hear their big heavy stoner riffs as we were setting our tent up and wish we’d managed to catch them but unfortunately we were never going to make it in time so we’ll have to catch them another time.     

BODY HOUND – Photo Credit : Snap, Rock and Pop photography 

The first set we actually caught was from the ever excellent scamps in Body Hound who shred their way through a half hour of power including new material from their long awaited debut album to a packed out tent as we crack open our first beers of the weekend, and get off to a great start. It’s always a joy watching these guys as they play some seroiously technical music but manage to make it look effortless throughout as their linch pin Ryan Bright holds it all together with some truely jaw dropping drumming. 

Up next are ATG house band Alpha Male Tea Party, these guys have pretty much played every year now and you know exactly what you’re getting at this stage as they delight the crowd with tracks from “Health” and “Droids” and the crowd just continued to grow for their set. These boys just know how to smash it!

ALPHA MALE TEA PARTY – Photo Credit : Snap, Rock and Pop photography 

 Something shiny, new and experimental next as new Bristol improv/jam band People Like Milk Products open the massive new covered main stage for the first time on a Thursday, comprised of Chiyoda Ku and Memory of Elephants it’s a big band affair as the six guys jam their way through a bunch of ideas which given more time and focus could grow into something really very special in the future, the highlight of their set however was the MOE/Chiyoda Medley of “Tiles, You’re Dead” and “Hurry up it’s time” to close their set.

PEOPLE LIKE MILK PRODUCTS – Photo Credit : Carl Battams

Foxing were one of our surprise highlights, we’ve seen them before and love them but this show was special as it was clear the band were overwhelmed by the response from the crowd and we were witnessing them playing at their very best. A great set filled with material from new album “Nearer my God” and favourites “The Medic” and set closer “Rory” from their debut album The Albatross

FOXING  –  Photo Credit : Helen Messenger

Thursday Headliners And So I watch You from afar are always one of the most eagerly anticpated bands to play at ATG and this was certainly one of the best shows we’ve ever seen the guys play as they rattle their way through their last album The Endless Shimmering in its entirety before launching into a 7 track encore from their back catalogue and never seeming to lose any of the energy which has made them one of the best live acts in the world. A special shout out to whoever was controlling the lights for this set as the production was simply incredible!

Photo Credit : Helen Messenger

We started the Friday a little late unfortunately missing the start of Seven Colour Drive’s set – the Bristol based post-rock newbies opened the main stage to a hefty crowd of people munching down their breakfast in preparation for the day ahead.Fuelled up and ready for Chicago based duo Space Blood, the band take to the main stage for their last ever UK show and it’s only a matter of seconds before confetti cannons and blow up dolls are popping off and dancing round the tent as the duo play one of their tightest shows we’ve seen to date. We’ve known these guys since they first came to the UK and we’re going to miss their daft antics and beautiful noise. The highlight of the set was “Unintentional manscaping” and drummer Will Covert seemingly channelling Damon Che from Don Caballero before being shot in the head with a cannon and ending Space Blood as we know it!

God mother and Orchards were up next with a complete juxtapostion between the heavy roars from the Swedish Metal act and the joyous upbeat math-pop from the Brighton bunch who are currently making big waves in the UK since signing with Big Scary Monsters.

Never shy about bringing a gimmick to the table, this year saw Poly-math go bananas (literally) and chuck 100 inflatable bananas out into the crowd, the prog rockers showcased triple drummers, a new member (Josh Gesner) on Keys and the “super cool” Joe Branton pulling all his best moves while dressed all in black and rocking the indoor shades look while they effortlessly glide through a high octance set featuring tracks Melancolia and “Ink of Scholars” oh and of course there was guitarist Tim’s little baby Poly-math upfront with her ear defenders on rocking out.

POLY-MATH – Photo Credit: Snap, Rock and Pop Photography

Yorkshire lads Bearfoot Beware proved themselves more than deserving of a slot at ATG as they made their first appearance here with a velvet caped front man Tom Bradley snarling his way through tracks from latest album “Sea Magnolia” and it’s predecessor “World owes you nowt”. Bearfoot channel their inner fugazi as they tear the Bixler a new one in front of a busy and receptive crowd who were more than happy to sing along especially to “Should have died as a kid”

Our boys Chiyoda Ku never disappoint and managed to sneak their way back on to the lineup this year thanks to Mugstar pulling out at short notice, the tents rammed and we’re treated to some new material from the shrimps. This band just get better and better every time we see them and we can’t wait for the new material to be recorded later in the year.

CHIYODA KU – Photo Credit: Snap, Rock and Pop Photography

 A tight clash between Strobes and Zeal and Ardor meant trying to do a 50/50 split between sets but we ended up being sucked into the crazy math styles provided by Strobes which meant we missed Zeal and Ardor but thankfully they’ll be on tour in November so we’ll be doing our best to catch them then!

 Amid rumours of cancellations Friday night headliners Glassjaw did show up but they missed the mark a little with only the older material like “Ape Dos Mil” and “Siberian kiss” really making an impact for us.  

DEATH AND THE PENGUIN – Photo Credit : Helen Messenger

Friday nights silent disco went big this year which meant we were nursing hangovers on Saturday morning but with a stacked lineup ahead for the final day there was no time to sit around feeling sorry for ourselves so it was off to see our buddies Death and the penguin as they played an absolute blinder to a very attentive early morning crowd, the band recently released their debut album Anomie and played a lot of the more energetic tracks from it and certainly won over many new fans, a nice touch in the crowd were the people who had donned their Death and Penguin costumes in the front row too.

Irish boys Ilenkus are a menacing act and it’s only minutes before frontman Chris is out in the crowd getting the crowd pumped as the band pummel their way through an intense 30 minute set which included lots of new material from the Galway Metal/Hardcore band, the only criticism of this set was the time of day as this show would have been a hell of a lot more chaotic if it had been later in the evening but that didn’t stop the band giving it their all.

GIRAFFES? GIRAFFES!  – Photo Credit : Snap Rock and Pop Photography

Giraffes? Giraffes! marked their first show outside of the US with this UK exclusive, we’ve been massive fans since we first came across G?G! 12 years ago and damn was it worth the wait. The duo took to the stage full of smiles and the main stage tent just continued to fill up. It took a song to get the sound right but when they brought in an extra guitar cab it was just perfection as the highly anticipated set got into full swing. 

“A quick one while she’s away” was an emotional rollercoaster which left us trying to compose ourselves. G?G! blasted their way through their 40 minute set barely saying a word instead focusing on playing as many songs as they could into their allocated time. the set which included favourites like “I Am S/H(im)e[r] As You Am S/H(im)e[r]” and set finale “When the Catholic Girls Go Camping, the Nicotine Vampires Rule Supreme” was one of our festival highlights and the only complaint here was that it wasn’t long enough. Hopefully G?G! will be back at ATG next year with a Thursday headline slot! We can but hope!!!!

GUG – Photo Credit : Snap, Rock and Pop photography

GUG were up next and it marked the return of the one and only Mr Dan Wild-Beesley, It was bloody lovely to see Dan back in action with his Baritone guitar at ATG and you could feel the love in the tent for him as the trio (which also includes Ben Forrester (peaks) and Alpha Male Tea Party’s Tom Peters) powered through a ferocious set showcasing tracks from their debut EP “I gotta GUG feelin”

The Guru Guru were another festival highlight, these crazy Belgians know how to put on a show and made a whole heap of new fans in the process, those who had seen them before had clearly dragged their friends along and sang along to every song taken from their debut album Pchew, this is a band that will be back again for sure!

Shellac don’t need an introduction, they’re legends, but the most down to earth legends that ever walked this earth, we spotted them walking around site talking to fans and getting involved at the silent disco (Bob Weston even got involved in DJ’ing the final silent disco along with the Artscare guys). Shellac don’t need fancy lights or stage propes they just do their thing and it’s glorious. They treat us to belters including “A Minute” “Compliant” and of course “Prayer to God” and keep us entertained throughout. You could tell they were happy to be at ArcTanGent and were more than happy to engage with the crowd and as a result we were more than happy to watch them do their thing in a little field just outside off Bristol

Roll on 2019 and edition number 7 – we can’t wait to see what James, Goc and Simon have in store for us!